The clear message is that the “faith of our fathers” is weak and ineffective, and those in the vanguard of authentic Christianity must rise up and take back the world for Christ.
I do not mean that those advocating this perspective are wrong; there are indeed far too many who apparently do not take their faith seriously, which at least partly explains why their children seem to want nothing to do with it.
But while these terms are valuable in pointing to aspects of the faith that should certainly be explored and fleshed out, lately I find myself wondering if they do not run the risk of undercutting basic Christianity itself.
Yes, we should carry the Gospel to the far corners of the world, and yes, we should be actively engaged in feeding the hungry and caring for the poor, and yes, we should be always striving for reconciliation and justice and peace.
But maybe we should also try and figure out how to be faithful right where we are. In a world where divorce and sexual anarchy reign, maybe the really radical thing is to marry someone (of the opposite sex, no less!) and settle down for the long haul, committed to one’s spouse exclusively and joyfully until death takes us home.
In a world where lying, cheating and scamming others are considered normal business practices, maybe the really radical thing is to conduct yourself with integrity, not slacking off on the job, refusing to cut corners just to make a deal, and along the way owning up to any mistakes, regardless of whether or not someone might sue you.
In a world where children are showered with the latest gadgets and material possessions, and are booked, Sunday through Saturday, with organized sports and activities, maybe the really radical thing is to unplug and unwind, just spending time with our kids and being there for them.
In a world where everybody is connected to the Internet but no one truly knows anyone personally anymore, maybe the really radical thing is to invite your neighbors over for a cookout.
We might find that simply walking in faith right where we are, day by day, is the most radical, missional and transformational thing of all.
THE REV. ED REES IS THE PASTOR OF ST. ANDREW PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN AUGUSTA.